The remarkable story of one woman's search for a new life in Africa in the wake of World War II - a life that sparked a heroic career but also hid a secret past.
Dr. Anne Spoerry treated hundreds of thousands of people across rural Kenya over the span of 50 years. A member of the renowned Flying Doctors Service, the French-born Spoerry learned how to fly a plane at the age of 45 and earned herself the cherished nickname "Mama Daktari" - "Mother Doctor" - from the people of Kenya. Yet few knew what drove her from post-World War II Europe to Africa. Now, in the first comprehensive account of her life, Dr. Spoerry's revered selflessness gives way to a past marked by rebellion, submission, and personal decisions that earned her another nickname - this one sinister - working as a "doctor" in a Nazi concentration camp.
In Full Flight explores the question of whether it is possible to rewrite one's troubled past simply by doing good in the present. Informed by Spoerry's own journals, a trove of previously untapped files, and numerous interviews with those who knew her in Europe or Africa, John Heminway takes readers on a remarkable journey across a haunting African landscape and into a dramatic life punctuated by both courage and weakness and driven by a powerful need to atone.
The hardcopy reviews for this book are deeply praiseworthy and come from many of the best-known of African humanitarians and conservationists. They are also from the friends of Dr Anne Spoerry, which perhaps lends them a touch of bias in regards to their glowing ratings.
I should qualify that remark by saying that as someone who is both fascinated by Africa and the History of Europe, I found this audiobook interesting and compelling. It is clearly well researched and well written (and read) by someone who knew Dr Spoerry very well indeed. It is a very thorough work and therefore, as mentioned above, may perhaps be of the most interest to those who knew Dr Spoerry and/or her work, rather than just an armchair enthusiast of Africa or WWII.
That is not to say that In Full Flight was not a riveting read, but I do believe one may perhaps need to be highly concerned with the history of the second world war AND the work of the flying doctors in East Africa to really get the most out of this volume.